I think about Charlotte coming down the steps in the morning, her hair a bird’s nest, the pitter-patter of bare feet across the floor. When it was especially hard early on in parenting, Dawn reminded me it wouldn’t always be this way, which means they’ll grow up, and then you’ll miss it. Most everyone said that, parents with kids who were older and looked away with a kind of wistfulness, a look of love and regret.
I save many of their handwritten notes, which have a ransom letter quality to them with their backwards characters and urgent scrawls. It is a kind of urgency to first express yourself in small ways, and offer it as a gift of creation.
The girls have little jewelry boxes — there was a Christmas where we received a few of them, all at once — and there’s a small figure that turns herky-jerky to a jingle then stops, and you shut the lid. The jewelry boxes get put into other boxes and put out in the garage for some other time in the future, their presence short-lived.
I pin their drawings up at my cube at work. That’s what everyone else does, and it’s nice to have parts of them around me at work, when I feel so otherwise removed from my real life, at home. I cycle through the drawings every few months or so and keep them in a file folder in my desk, also for some other time in the future.
They’re souls unfurling in slow-motion and we all are, but with kids it seems to happen faster; their arc around the sky is on a different trajectory. All our time is scant with the old and the young and it is like tap water to me, you think you can leave it running and there will always be more.